Look out college basketball: Penny and Memphis are ready to dominate
Despite flying under-the-radar in year one, Penny Hardaway is building something special at his alma mater. A solid foundation was laid out during his rookie year as head coach of the Memphis Tigers–getting over the 20-win hump with a 21-13 (11-7) record and an opening round victory in the NIT (before falling to Creighton in the second round).
The Tigers are going to be a Top 10 team next season and will contend for a Final Four.
I’m not the only one saying it either.
His recruiting efforts are already becoming legendary.
We already knew that Penny was going to put a fence around the city of Memphis and make any local kid a Tiger. What we didn’t necessarily know what how he would be able to recruit outside of the city, but it looks like he is going to be just fine.
On Friday evening, Hardaway landed a commitment from Lester Quinones, a four-star shooting guard from New York by way of IMG Academy in Florida. A day later, Hardaway picked up the second-best grad transfer on the market in Rayjon Tucker, a 6-foot-5 wing that averaged better than 20 points and shot 41 percent from three as a redshirt junior with Arkansas-Little Rock last season. Tucker is a legitimate NBA prospect who could opt to play professionally before he even suits up for the Tigers. My guess is he will play for Penny and increase his draft stock.
Add all this to a recruiting class that features the No.1 overall player in James Wiseman, D.J. Jeffries, Malcom Dandridge and Damien Baugh.
But wait, there’s more…
Memphis still has two open scholarships left, and the Tigers are very much in the mix for R.J. Hampton, Precious Achiuwa, Trendon Watford and Boogie Ellis.
Update: Boogie Ellis has committed to the Tigers shortly after this article was published. Even more shocking this is the second recruit Penny has flipped from a big time college program and coach. Jeffries was originally a Kentucky commit and Ellis was originally a Duke commit. So Hardaway has beaten out Coach Calipari and Coach K for elite prospects.
Seeing Penny up-close-and-personal while MFST was live at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, Florida–we witnessed the intensity and passion he has for the game and his hometown school.
And what we saw out of the Tigers last season was a team that played hard for that coaching staff.
Bottom line, hop on the bandwagon now because the Tigers are back and here to stay.